By Haider Abbas
India is taking deft diplomatic steps, to even buy Chinese Yuan, in order to pay Russia for its crude oil, but Russia is perplexed to find-out way to exhaust the billions of Indian Rupees, by reinvesting it into the Indian market, and is therefore, forced to buy its own BrahMos missiles, produced in collaboration with India, in the post Russia-Ukraine war. What entails for BrahMos and for the Indian Rupee is what is all to be seen.
The Article Begins:
The war between Russia and Ukraine is now 509 days old and can stretch for years. But, as the war gets along unabated there is a news that Russia may take the Indian made BrahMos supersonic missiles, which of course would be unprecedented and a great boost to India’s defense sector, but what has perplexed the analysts is why would Russia import BrahMos? Where itself it holds a 49.5% stake as a joint-venture with India? If this is to happen, but once after the Russia-Ukraine war ends, India would succeed into supplying its second-biggest consignment, as right now India is on its way to deliver its first set of BrahMos to Philippines, by the end of this year, reported The Hindu Business Line 1 after it had inked a deal of 375 million USD in January 2022. This will equip Philippines in its maritime capabilities against the belligerent China in the South China Sea.
There are huge economic and military sanctions on Russia from US and European Union, yet Russia has supplied its crude oil to India at an extremely low rate, since the February 2022 war, out of its decades of friendship with India, despite India’s overtly now in the US group, yet, there had been a deadlock between the two nations, which was aired by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on his visit to Goa in May, at SCO Council of Foreign Ministers meeting, that both the countries ‘had’ suspended the negotiations of bilateral trade in Indian Rupees! This created the obvious flutter as Russia does not want payments in US Dollars, as a part of its De-Dollarisation ‘campaign for world economy’ with China, hence, both India-Russia, sat-it-out to diffuse the whole situation.
Russia is quite nonplussed as it does not have clear-cut ideas to utilize the Indian Rupees, worth around 147 billion USD it has amassed, except to reinvest it in Indian economy. Russia therefore may be forced to manufacture non-combatant civil-jets in India too in order to escape the sanctions. It has been reported by Indian Defense News 2 that Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation has started to work out a plan to manufacture Sukhoi Superjet with India, ‘India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (were) in talks to draw up a working arrangement to manufacture Sukhoi Superjet with foreign components, which is going for import substitution in a big way.’ Russia will thereafter buy them or later export them out. This obviously is to give a big hand to Modi’s government, as it will use it for its internal consumption, which in fact has happened only due to Russian compulsions, as an achievement to claim that India is soon to be transformed into a defense manufacturing hub etc. India is already setting up a 5 billion USD defence exports target by 2025, reported The Economic Times. 3
But, there is also no doubt that the war has also created a certain missiles etc crisis in Russia too, which of course, is not suppose to run-out of its stock, yet, Russia does not want to use its expensive military hardware as there are also potentialities of war spilling-out too. What if NATO and US get directly involved in it? Russia has also utilized the services of private mercenaries groups like Wagner and Chechen fighters, faced mutiny also, but it has not put into force its regular army against Ukraine. What also matters here is that Russia has not as yet used lethal weapons against Ukraine, despite the entire West arming Ukraine. However, Russia has been importing Iranian made Kamikaze drones, which has attracted more sanctions on it as well as on Iran.
There had been reports that Ukraine, owing to US Patriot Defence System, had downed Russia’s Hypersonic Kinzhal aka Daggers missile, as per NPR 4 , apart from intercepting other supersonic missiles too, a claim Russia has refuted, yet US has acknowledged its Patriot to have got damaged from Russia’s attack informed New York Times 5 , hence, it is clear that Russia is using its missiles system to target US sophisticated weapons etc, and therefore, Russia is likely to need them in future, once after the war ends. It is here where BrahMos is to fill-into. BrahMos being supplied to Russia, however, has started to raise the eyebrows in China.
The post-war is when Russia would be forced to rebuild its military, that too at a rapid pace, as after all, this is not the last war, therefore, India would work to Russia’s advantage as mass production of BrahMos and its supplies will help Russia to keep up to its military edge. This of course will give the much desired stimulus to DRDO which produces it. The ironic part is that India will end up supplying weapons to Russia, with Russian technology, which primarily would occur due to the long bedrock of the two nation’s friendship, yet also due to an undeniable fact of Russia’s own impairments, but even, if that is to happen, it would set up for the impetus to enthrall India’s defence fortunes.
There are also now open speculations that Russian supplies of the pivotal S-400 Defense System to India may also get delayed, due to US sanctions, which has made India jittery on financial transactions, and therefore, finally the 5.5 billion USD deal with India of 2018, may fall into jeopardy. Yet it is expected that the long enduring Russian-Indian friendship will endure the squeeze, despite the fact, that India did not evoke the kind of response Uganda gave, ‘to send its army’ to rescue Russian President Vladimir Putin against the June coup, and the likes of Iran and Turkey, to have done so too.
How will the future holds for BrahMos, particularly in the wake of Russia-Chinese relations, as BrahMos are to land in Vietnam too, which is in conflict with China, is all yet to be seen, but Russia and India have also devised a plan to ‘sustain’ each other, which is that India has started to buy Chinese Yuan and paying to Russian for its crude oil, even if that be at the cost of strengthening the Chinese currency. Skeptics will consider India to have ‘succumbed’ to China by default through Russia, but there is always two steps backward and one step forward policy, as India, UAE and Sri Lanka have signaled to start trade in Indian Rupees. Will it sustain the dwindling stature of Rupee is what is yet to unfold.
BrahMos however are to reach Russia but will S-400 also come down? Will US allow it to happen, is all what lies ahead.
The writer is a former UP State Information Commissioner and writes on international issues.